(Re)Examining the Socratic Method: A Lesson in Tutoring
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In a recent blog post on the University of Wisconsin writing center’s webpage, Matthew Capdevielle asserts that it has become common to describe writing center methods as Socratic. In fact, writing center professionals have embraced the Socratic Method for quite some time. In his classic and agenda-setting article, “The Idea of a Writing Center,” North writes: If writing centers are going to finally be accepted, surely they must be accepted on their own terms as places whose primary responsibility, whose only reason for being, is to talk to writers. That is their heritage, and it stretches… back, in fact, to Athens where in a busy marketplace a tutor called Socrates set up the same kind of shop: open to all comers, no fees charged, offering, on whatever subject a visitor might propose, a continuous dialectic that is, finally, its own end. (North 46) While Capdevielle and North are right to make some connections between writing center practices and the Socratic Method, I nevertheless wonder just how Socratic our methods are or should be.